Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 15, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 15, 2019

An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.

The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.

The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, a tractor-trailer carrying 40,000 pounds of frozen chicken caught fire.

Governor Brian P.Kemp issued three Executive Orders yesterday:

Establishing the Georgians First Commission
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Executive Branch of Government
Establishing a Code of Ethics for Executive Branch Officers and Employees

From the Associated Press via that Valdosta Daily Times:

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp pledged Monday to work for all Georgians, striking a conciliatory tone in his inaugural address as he sought to leave behind a bitter election contest with Democrats who are pursuing a legal challenge to the state’s balloting methods.

Kemp, 56, was sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd chief executive at a university stadium whose audience included the GOP faithful, state lawmakers, lobbyists and members of Kemp’s Cabinet and family. Kemp’s wife and three teenage daughters sat behind him, wiping tears from their faces as he spoke.

“Through the prism of politics, our state appears divided,” Kemp said. “Metro versus rural. Black versus white. Republican versus Democrat. But after visiting all 159 counties I can tell you this: We have so much in common and as governor I will fight for all Georgians.”

Sylvia Turnage of Blairsville, Georgia, said she had followed Kemp’s political career for years and came from northern Georgia to see him sworn in.

“He’s going to be helping rural and agricultural areas,” Turnage said. “We’re in a pretty remote area ourselves up there in the mountains, so we’re hoping he’ll pay attention to our needs.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Kemp’s speech offered a view of some of the issues that the new governor wants to tackle. He highlighted opioid addiction, mental health issues, struggling small businesses, gangs, drug cartels, infrastructure in metro Atlanta communities, sex trafficking and third-grade reading proficiency among some of those issues.

He pledged to continue fully funding education, something that was accomplished for the first time under former Gov. Nathan Deal’s leadership last year, and to further cut taxes and red tape in an effort to spur new private sector job creation.

“As governor, I will work every day to keep Georgia moving in the right direction,” Kemp said. “My vision is for a safer, stronger state. I know it can be done.”

“Thanks to the bold leadership of Gov. Sonny Perdue and Gov. Nathan Deal, Georgia weathered the Great Recession and emerged stronger than ever,” Kemp said. “Wages are rising and the unemployment rate is the lowest in 18 years. Thanks to the hard work of the legislature, Georgia is the top state in the country for business six years in a row.”

From the AJC:

State representatives re-elected David Ralston to be House speaker, a post he has held since 2010. Ralston will have considerable influence on legislation while working with Georgia’s other elected leaders, Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who serves as president of the state Senate.

Ralston called on lawmakers to avoid harming Georgia’s reputation and focus on initiatives that help create jobs. He didn’t mention specifics, but Ralston has previously said he’s cautious about “religious liberty” and gun rights measures.

“It is a state that is too busy moving forward to unnecessarily and harmfully divide us against each other,” Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, said as he was interrupted by applause in the House chamber. “The loudest and angriest voices are not always right but oftentimes are simply that: loud and angry.”

Democrats gained 11 seats in the state House and two in the state Senate in November’s elections. Republicans now control 58 percent of seats in the General Assembly and every statewide elected office, including governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state schools superintendent.

The Georgia State Senate debated new rules addressing sexual harassment allegiations against Senators or staff, according to AccessWDUN.

The Georgia Senate placed a time limit on how soon accusers must report allegations of misconduct by senators and their staffs Monday as the legislature convened for its 2019 session.

The new rule also says gives the Senate power to dismiss internal ethics complaints filed by accusers who publicly disclose the allegations. It says allegations may be made public only in cases where “substantial credible evidence exists.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan told lawmakers the amended rule only affects internal complaints against senators and staff members.

“There are multiple avenues that a person can make a complaint,” said Dugan, R-Carrollton. “They can do it internally through the system … or they can go and take it to the court system.”

Gwinnett County‘s state senate delegation has two new Democratic members, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

[T]wo new senators from Gwinnett County made state history on Day One of the legislative session. Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth, was sworn in as Georgia’s first Iranian-American legislator while Sen. Sheikh Rahman, D-Lawrenceville, was sworn in as the state’s first Muslim legislator.

“Gwinnett is so diverse,” Rahman said. “That’s the reason why we’re here in a way. That tells you will all of these people coming from all over the world (to Gwinnett), they have a place. No matter where we come from, there are common things that bond us together.”

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles Bethel administered the oath of office to members of the Senate, many of whom — Rahman and Karinshak included — were surrounded by members of their families.

Karinshak also invited former Congressman Buddy Darden, who put her name forward for her appointment to the Air Force Academy when she was a teenager to join her family on the Senate floor.

The federal government shutdown is hitting TSA lines at Hartsfield-Jackson airport, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest airport, said on Monday that it was struggling with short staffing from the Transportation Security Administration as footage of the lengthy security lines there hit social media.

“Mondays are always busy days for us at Hartsfield-Jackson, but I can tell you that we are down a few security lanes because of the shutdown,” Elise Durham, the airport’s communications director, told CNN.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said in a tweet Monday afternoon that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Miami International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Washington Dulles International Airport in the DC area were all “exercising their contingency plans.”

The Brunswick News spoke to local legislators about their priorities for the 2019 Session.

State Rep, Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, enters this session with eight bills he intends to push, and highlighted an effort to bring more transparency to government meetings.

“That’s an issue that affects us locally,” Jones said. “Right now, our county commission, joint water-sewer (commission), school board, other public groups like that, don’t have to publish their agendas until they actually start the meeting. Current law allows that, so we need to strengthen that open meeting law to require our groups, such as I just described, to post their agenda — their full agenda — one full week prior to the start of the meeting, so that we as a public have an opportunity to comment and know.”

Jones is also working on bills regarding coal ash pond dewatering and public notice for coal ash solid waste storage in municipal landfills, prohibiting the issuance of driver’s licenses to people unauthorized to be in the country, imposing fees on out-of-state cash wire transfers, granting a teacher tax credit for out-of-pocket school supplies and legalizing oyster farming. He’s also looking at dealing with state-owned property in McIntosh and Long counties, and how to replace that lost local property tax revenue.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said one of his top priorities is going to be addressing school safety.

“We’re going to be looking at school safety, and I have a particular interest in that — I’ve been working with our juvenile court judges here, and they’re asking us to consider some legislation that would toughen up some of the penalties for students in school who are caught bringing about threats on social media,” Ligon said. “And they want to use it — part of it is punishment, but part of it is being able to engage with them and allow them to have more supervision and bring some structure to those that are making those threats.”

Law enforcement officers often say they’re on the front lines of dealing with mental health in this country. State Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, said he’s working on legislation that will provide some help.

Former State Rep. Melvin Everson has been promoted to vice president of economic development for Gwinnett Tech, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Habersham County Commissioners voted to create a mental health accountability court, according to AccessWDUN.

Glynn County Commissioners will discuss appointments to various boards at their next meeting, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Sheriff’s Office has started a progam called CHAMPS, according to The Brunswick News.

C.H.A.M.P.S. — or Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety — allows students to participate in healthy activities and to learn how to avoid risky behaviors. The program, offered to fifth graders, will be introduced for the first time in Glynn County this semester.

The Georgia Sheriff’s Association created the program years ago to replace the D.A.R.E. program, which educated students about the risks of alcohol and drug use.

The C.H.A.M.P.S program covers a wider array of topics, including the risks of alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine and tobacco, as well as issues like bullying, choices and consequences, internet and social media safety, peer pressure, stress and more.

“Mental health court will be a treatment program through the superior court system that will be available for those who are incarcerated in jail with severe mental health issues that have not historically had any treatment options,” the executive summary from County Manager Phil Sutton states.

The grant award began Jan. 1 and ends June 30, and the current maximum capacity for the program is 15 participants.

During the meeting, Accountability Court Coordinator Beth Pelaccio and Superior Court Judge Russell Smith discussed the proposed court with commissioners.

While the new court will meet in Stephens County due to scheduling and other factors, it still will serve participants from Habersham, Rabun and Stephens, which make up the Mountain Judicial Circuit.

Rome City Commissioners elected Commissioner Bill Collins as the first black Mayor of Rome, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Collins has been on the board since 1996 and was mayor pro tem last year.

“He’s served this body with distinction for a vast number of years. It’s time for a change in leadership … and he has earned this position,” said Commissioner Wendy Davis, who nominated him at the panel’s first meeting of the year.

Three seats on the Oakwood City Council will be filled in a November 5, 2019 election, according to the Gainesville Times.

A new coffee shop in Savannah will offer work opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the Savannah Morning News.

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